Saturday, June 20, 2009

Eco-friendly cooling

We are finally having hot, humid weather, and today I read a blurb about low energy ways to keep cool.

It reminded me of something that happened ages ago, when a friend of mine and I would play racquetball when he was in town on business.

Our favorite place to play was the now-defunct Chicago Lakeshore Athletic Club on Lake Shore Drive. It was owned by Northwestern University, and my friend's cousin Jim, who was a nurse at Northwestern Hospital, lived in the building. We usually met at Jim's after work and changed into shorts and T-shirts, then went down to street level and around the corner to the club entrance to play racquetball.

Jim's apartment was small and without air conditioning. One very hot and humid day after racquetball, Jim, who along with my friend was the son of Greek immigrants, suggested that he show us the Greek way to cool off.

I was a bit dubious, as Jim had a few minutes earlier handed me a stack of snapshots of his recent vacation. Interspersed with the photos of lakes and forests were pictures of him and his girlfriend in bed in his apartment: she with the covers demurely up to her chin (and looking sound asleep); he on top of the covers, lounging in all his naked Greek glory. Did he know these pictures were mixed in with the vacation shots? Did he give them to me deliberately, or was it a mistake? And why was he taking pictures of himself while his girlfriend was asleep, anyway? It was all too weird.

At his suggestion for showing us a way to get cool, I decided I would play along, but would be ready to bail at the first sign of impropriety.

He got out his blender and some fresh fruit and ice, and he sent me into the bathroom with instructions to put the stopper in the tub and fill it with about two inches of cold water. Then I was to wait there in the bathroom.

In a few minutes he appeared with my friend and tall glasses of frosty fruit drinks. "Take off your shoes," he said, "and step into the tub." I complied and was still waiting warily for the next instruction when he handed me one of the drinks, and he and my friend got into the tub, too.

We stood there for a second, and then Jim beamed and said, "Isn't this nice?"

And it was. It was wonderful, in fact. Standing in the cold water, drinking a refreshing fruit drink - it was remarkably cooling. And the feeling lasted for hours after we got out of the tub.

G wouldn't stand in the tub with me.
He always complains about cold feet, so this trick didn't appeal to him.

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